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DVD Round-Up: 07/04-25/04

April 25, 2011

Apologies for the big delay in updates-a family wedding and busy Easter holidays have made getting to the computer a bit of a difficult task!  My cinema round-up will be back on Saturday, but for now here’s my brief DVD round-up of the last couple of weeks:

The Lovely Bones:

I love Peter Jackson.  He made Lord of the Rings and Heavenly Creatures and for that, he’ll always be one of my favourite filmmakers.  However, it took me a long time to see The Lovely Bones, because I just had a feeling it would be a disappointment, and I was right.  Based on the bestseller by Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones is about the murder of 14 year old Susie Salmon and her attempts from the afterlife to heal her family and see her killer brought to justice.  There are many, many good things in the film, in particular the performances (especially Stanley Tucci…though when is that ever not the case?), the photography and the wonderfully evocative 70’s setting.  The character-driven first half hour is brilliant…but then Susie dies.  From that point on the film feels disjointed and awkward.  Peter Jackson’s image of ‘heaven’ is fantastical and beautiful, no doubt, but the switch from family drama to a disturbing child killing to the dream-like afterlife is too jarring.  Ultimately, it feels like a story that works on paper, but is too much when brought so vividly to life.



Shutter Island:

Another master filmmaker, another film based on a popular novel…but this time a lot more successful.  Scorcese directs Leonardo Dicaprio yet again to one of his best ever performances (someone give this man an Oscar already!) as US Marshal Teddy Daniels, who arrives at an island-based mental hospital to investigate the disappearance of an inmate.  It’s a challenging watch, a psychological drama that requires the viewer’s full attention throughout, but it’s entirely worth the effort.  Scorcese combines suspense, intrigue and horror to create a gothic noir drama that isn’t forgotten in a hurry.


Cemetery Junction:

Another big disappointment.  The story of three young men looking to escape their life in Reading, this has been done a hundred times before and often to a much higher standard.  Gervais and Merchant’s inexperience in filmmaking sadly comes through, as scenes often feel misplaced or unnecessary, and it was my personal feeling that this would have worked better as a miniseries than a film with more time to expand on the characters and their stories.  As it stands, it feels like an underdeveloped, cliched story which at times makes little sense; for example, the awful town that the characters so strive to escape comes across more as a sunny, delightful, quaint village.  Cemetery Junction is watchable, but that’s about it (the soundtrack is brilliant, mind).



Crazy Heart:

The film that finally won Jeff Bridges an Oscar, and fully deserved it was too, though at times it does feel like Bridges is better than the film deserves.  The story of Bad Blake, a broken-down and alcoholic country singer and the romance that gives him hope, this is a decent film; well-made, enjoyable and with a nice soundtrack.  Like Cemetery Junctionthough, it’s a story we’ve seen many times before and it’s really only Bridge’s magnificent performance that stops it being instantly forgettable.


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